Employers’ Health Insurance Coverage Choices and Gender Identity Discrimination in Georgia

For transgender workers in Georgia, the potential to be harmed by discrimination exists on several fronts. Even if an employer refrains from any adverse action directly related to the worker’s performance of their job, other ways to harm that worker still exist, such as the denial of insurance coverage for necessary treatments connected to their transgender condition. When a Georgia employer erects a carve-out in its insurance plan that specifically targets treatments designed for transgender people, then that employer has potentially engaged in gender identity discrimination in violation of Title VII… as well as disability discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. When that happens, be sure to contact an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer to find out how to protect your rights.

A.L., whose case this blog covered last year, was one of those employees. A.L. was a sheriff’s deputy in Houston County and a trans woman. The deputy’s medical providers diagnosed her with gender dysphoria and recommended hormone treatment, breast implants, and a vaginoplasty.

The employer’s health insurance refused to cover the care. As the deputy pointed out, the plan was discriminatory, covering hormone treatments when doctors prescribed them in relation to a woman’s menopause, but not in relation to a trans woman’s transition. Additionally, the plan covered mastectomies when needed as part of cancer treatment, but excluded them when they were part of a trans man’s gender dysphoria care.

The District Court agreed with the deputy, issuing an injunction blocking the implementation of the insurance exclusion while the county appeals the deputy’s win in the trial court.

Similar Exclusions in Other States

The deputy’s circumstance is far from unique and, often, the workers harmed are public employees like the deputy. According to a macon.com report, a trans professor from the University of Arizona sued after he discovered that his employer’s healthcare plan excluded gender-affirming surgeries. According to that lawsuit, the insurance plan included hysterectomies for cisgender women (like the trans man’s friend and colleague, who got her hysterectomy covered,) but excluded hysterectomies for a trans person like him. The State of North Carolina also has a healthcare insurance plan that contains an exclusion specifically targeting gender-affirming treatments, according to an employee’s lawsuit.

Those cases remain pending.

As the Houston County deputy’s case shows, there is an avenue to obtain legal relief when your employer punishes you through health insurance coverage that specifically excludes treatments for trans people. There can also be multiple forms of relief to which you may be entitled. These may include monetary damages to compensate you financially for the harm you endured. Your relief may also include something called “injunctive relief,” where the judge orders the other side specifically to do something or refrain from doing something (such as the injunctive relief the deputy received regarding her insurance coverage.)

Whether your case involves these sorts of insurance-involved issues or more direct forms of job discrimination on the basis of gender identity, the diligent and knowledgeable Atlanta gender identity discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert are here to help. We proudly offer our clients experience-based advice and powerful advocacy both in and outside court. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation.

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